Word for the Week
Sunday, March 18, 2018 Fifth Sunday in Lent Introduction
God promises Jeremiah that a “new covenant” will be made in the future: a covenant that will allow all the people to know God by heart. The church sees this promise fulfilled in Christ, who draws all people to himself when he is lifted up on the cross. Our baptismal covenant draws us to God’s heart through Christ and draws God’s light and truth into our hearts. We see God’s heart most clearly in the way Jesus shares human suffering, in an agony both the John and Hebrews readings describe.
Prayer of the Day
O God, with steadfast love you draw us to yourself, and in mercy you receive our prayers. Strengthen us to bring forth the fruits of the Spirit, that through life and death we may live in your Son, Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.
First Reading: Jeremiah 31:31-34
The Judeans in Babylon blamed their exile on their ancestors, who had broken the covenant established at Sinai. Here the prophet looks to a day when God will make a new covenant with the people. There will be no need to teach the law, because God will write it on their hearts.
Psalm: Psalm 51:1-12
Create in me a clean heart, O God. (Ps. 51:10)
Second Reading: Hebrews 5:5-10
Using priestly imagery and references to the Old Testament, the author explains how Christ lived in trusting obedience to God, and so God has made Christ the source of our eternal salvation.
Gospel: John 12:20-33
Jesus entered Jerusalem for the last time to celebrate the Passover festival. Here Jesus’ words about seeds planted in the ground turn the disaster of his death into the promise of a harvest in which everyone will be gathered.
Theme for the season of Lent
Once for All: Instantly Saved, Gradually Sanctified
Lent is a time for us to turn our hearts and minds back to God, to witness Jesus’ ministry, to walk with him on his path to the cross, and to offer our worship and praise for God’s overwhelming gift of grace.
The price has been paid … Once for All
1 Peter 3:18a – For Christ also suffered for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, in order to bring you to God.
Salvation is gifted, not earned … Instantly Saved
The chorus in our Lenten confession song encompasses the depths of the gifts of God’s grace:
Oh, the overwhelming, never-ending, reckless love of God.
Oh, it chases me down, fights ‘til I’m found, leaves the ninety-nine.
I couldn’t earn it, I don’t deserve it, still You give Yourself away.
Oh, the overwhelming, never-ending, reckless love of God
Our faith practices put into action … Gradually Sanctified
2 Corinthians 5:21 – For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
May we each walk our Lenten journeys confident in God’s steadfast love and faithfulness.